In a time so long ago begins our play,
In a star-crossed galaxy, far far away.
So ends the prologue to William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope, the first of three plays re-telling the epic Star Wars story in the style of the Bard. Followed by The Empire Striketh Back and The Jedi Doth Return, these plays by Ian Doescher combine the magic of iambic pentameter with the beloved space opera of George Lucas - and are a perfect read for this May 4th! (Or how about organizing a staged reading, lightsabers at the ready?) Brave (Jedi) Knights and evil (Sith) Lords duke it out in elegant verse, while a love story combines with a comedy of mistaken family identity and tragic revelations for a story right up the Bard’s alley.
Of course, Star Wars isn’t the only script that Shakespeare would likely love to get his hands on. Many modern movies have the same kind of dramatic elements that Shakespeare was famous for including in his own work: a blend of comedy, tragedy, romance and epic feuds, all told with a wink to the audience. We’d love to see these five other franchises transformed by William’s quill.
[Movie still from The Avengers, Marvel Studios]
Oh Brother! What is this that thou hast done?
Our father’s love, twas not enough for thee?
But wait - when mighty Hulk has had his fun,
Once more, a puny godling wilt thou be.
A comedy of good and evil, of battling friends brought together to save the day, The Avengers would be just the thing for Shakespeare’s next project. Of course, it helps that Thor’s lines wouldn’t need much altering, as the Asgardian warrior already speaks with Shakespearean-esque language… he’s not afraid to throw the odd ‘doth’ and ‘hark’ into his speech as it is. But Thor (and occasionally Loki) aside, we’d love to hear Black Widow battle in poetry, or Stark’s swagger get translated into pointed rhyming couplets that cut the targets of his jokes straight to the quick.
[Movie still from Jurassic World, Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment]
Hark, what beast doth make my water shake?
In blackest night, this park is not yet done.
My carriage overturn’d, my bones do quake
As draweth close this long-dead nightmare comes.
Shakespeare may not have included dinosaurs in his plays, but he certainly never shied away from supernatural creatures. From the faeries’ mischief on a Midsummer’s Night to the witches plotting over their cauldron, the Bard loved his big baddies. And what bigger baddie is there than the T-Rex? Or, of course, the new Indominus Rex. From the original Jurassic Park to the rebooted Jurassic World, there are plenty of comedic moments to balance out the high drama - although it might be a little bit of a challenge to fit these Jurassic beasts onto the stage.
[Movie still from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Warner Bros.]
One household, much concerned with dignity,
On Drive of Privet, where we lay our scene,
A young boy, and his silent mutiny:
Wizard! That which they think is unclean.
A modern classic of good and evil, the Harry Potter series is a perfect candidate for the Globe Theater treatment. From the family tragedy that struck the Potters in Godric’s Hollow to the love triangles between Harry, Cedric and Cho, there’s death, battles, family won and lost, mistaken identities, and good triumphing over all. J K Rowling’s epic series is already poetry to so many people, and although it would take multiple plays to tell the whole tale, we would sit through them all quite happily! Besides, if the Bard could get away with his interconnected histories (which basically form a series), he could easily do the same with seven Harry Potter tomes.
[Movie still from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Paramount Pictures]
Quarrel, yet my search is not found wanting,
Hist’ry made, tho’ made with such mistakes
Blazing fire, golden goblet, how thee dost sing,
I pray thee, tell me why must it be snakes?
Indiana Jones is the kind of larger-than-life character Shakespeare loved to concoct - and with duels and romance built into the adventure, how could Billy Shakes say no? The Bard may have preferred swords to whips, but Indy could always wield both in a whole new take on the most adventurous archaeologist of all time. While the franchise continues on the big screen in 2020, we’d love to see it take to the pages of a script instead, with a Bard-style retelling of some of the classic films.
[TV still from Outlander, Starz!]
Lost in this, a green and strange new land
Give me my husband, oh, but which shall be?
Rings of gold and silver wrap my hands -
Love that traveled time between us three.
The only period piece on our list, the style of Outlander would certainly suit the stage at the globe, but that’s not the only reason that this book-turned-TV-series would be a perfect fit for the Bard. From the mistaken identities of identical ancestors Frank and Jonathan Randall to the witch muttering over her herbs and crystals and heading to the standing stones, this time-traveling romance is ripe for a poetic re-telling.
Which other epic scripts would you like to see in Shakespearean style? Comment and let us know!